For all the people that keep on saying “The comic book movie/TV show bubble is gonna burst!” I feel bad for you because shows like Luke Cage are being made and better than most things on TV. If this was one of my The Review posts I would give it a 10/10 just so you know how I feel about this series. People are saying this is the best series Netflix has done while I would say this is one of the best pure seasons of a television series.
A fast version of describing this show (though there is so much more than this) is that a man is locked away in prison, gets experimented on, gains the ability of being super strong and bullet proof, and fights crime when it presents itself. Sounds cheesy as hell but trust me, its not. Well, it is but this series makes it work. In this 10 Reasons Why You Should Have Watched Luke Cage which will be full of spoilers I am gonna explain why you should have watched this and still have the chance unless you're an asshole that thinks superhero related entertainment is stupid.
1. Mike Colter IS Luke Cage
Before this show I only know Mike Colter who stars as Luke Cage from Jessica Jones where he played Luke Cage. I liked that because I wasn't able to go “Oh, its so and so from that other show.” I had no attachment to him. I liked him on the Jones show but when I heard that they would be making a Cage series I was not impressed. I didn't think they would be able to make an entire season about a big ass Black dude that couldn't be hurt especially starring some guy I didn't know. I was very wrong.
I could not imagine this show with anyone other than Colter. There are certain moments in the show with looks he gives or things he says (like “sweet Christmas”) that coming out of someone else's mouth would seem so ridiculous but when he does it just works. The tired expression on his face after having his shirt he planned to wear to a funeral shot made me laugh. Its not like he is happy to have his powers. He actually just wants to be left alone and sweep hair at the barbershop and wash dishes at the club. Every time there is a crime he has to step in and stop just draws attention to him which is the last thing he wants.
2. The Fights
Brutal. Its easier on shows when a character can just shoot someone or stab them but Cage don't like killing so he is more likely to punch you across a room or send your ass out a window into the streets so you can wake up all embarrassed and dizzy. When Cage wallops people they don't land on the other side of the room, look at him confused, and then pass out. They are fucking unconscious. When these guys show up again they have casts on, cuts, bruises, or are talked about because they got their asses beaten by someone that not everyone believes is really bulletproof.
That's another thing! If I shoot someone eight times and he just looks at his shirt and gets mad because I put holes in it I'm running. Cage doesn't run that much so I would safely assume that he does not have super speed. One poor bastard punches Cage in the jaw and shatters his entire damned hand. I was like “Ha! That's what you get!” And when a fight breaks out entire rooms and buildings get destroyed.
3. Positive Vibes
I am so happy for kids that will get the chance to check this show out. For one they get to have a positive male influence on television. Yeah, Cage is a superhero but he also has morals and a way of living that sets a great example. Call him “ni**a” and watch what happens. By the way, that word is used in this show and for once it didn't bother me because it did not feel forced. It wasn't done Tarantino style and didn't feel exploitative. Though there is plenty of crime on this show we also get to see what happens when you commit it, street level or white collar. There are repercussions for every action in this series. And people who drop n-bombs tend to get punched through walls.
There is a character named Pops played by Frankie Faison that kind of becomes Cage's father figure. He runs a barber shop where gangs come and meet and it is a place of peace. Everyone refers to it as Switzerland. When you get a chance to see his past and how he got his name and you watch the man he has become it feels good. It shows that you are not your past and that you can become a better person. I normally don't think it is important to have characters that look like me or from where I'm from is important but with the way this country is right now someone like Pops and Cage on TV is important. Shouldn't be, but it is.
There is one character named Scarfe played by Frank Whaley. He is a very good detective and someone who openly supports superheroes and vigilantes because they are doing the stuff that cops cant do. He is a good friend of Misty (more on her in a moment) and lost his daughter. So imagine my surprise when this son of a bitch murdered Chico while eating burgers and fries! I really felt stupid for not thinking he was dirty but they gave no hints that this man had the capacity for the bad shit that he ended up doing! Genuinely surprised by the way his character switched.
Besides other sudden deaths that happened the death of a very major villain in the show caught me off guard so hard you wouldn't believe it. They made me think that it was a damned dream sequence it was so surprising not just for the fact that it happened but the person that did the killing. It was really one of those “This is not real. Nope. Cue the flashback music. Wow. They really making this one long, huh? Okay. Wait. Oh shit. This for really real!” The only other show that really gets me the same way is Game Of Thrones.
5. Rosario Dawson
Everyone knows how much I love this woman and have or decades now. Even when I try not to she will do some show or I see a picture of her and go “Damn it. I'm back in.” Rosario Dawson is back as Claire Temple from the Daredevil series. I had no idea that she was going to be on this series so when she showed up I was happy because she was tying the shows all together in the coolest of ways. She was tired of the bullshit happening in Hell's Kitchen and while heading to her mom's house a guy snatches her purse. She chases him down, kicks his nuts, and beats his ass a bit as he calls her a crazy bitch.
She ends up meeting Cage at a restaurant and reintroducing herself since the last time she saw him she had to jam a needle in his eye to save him after taking a shotgun blast to the dome piece. She ends up becoming one of many important and awesome characters on the show. And she is smoking damned hot! So hot! I don't even care! I'm saying it! This woman gets more and more beautiful and talented every year and by the time she is 50 she will be a beautiful beam of light that we are not allowed to look at directly without protective eye wear!
6. Simone Missick as Misty Knight
Another person I knew from nothing else which helped me enjoy the show more. I'm not saying that knowing people from others shows is always bad, but sometimes it can be distracting. I got happy as hell when folks from The Wire and Oz popped up on this show. Simone Missick plays Mercedes “Misty” Knight and is a cool ass detective that studies the shit out of photos and help solve crimes. She described her character as “She's her own person. She's not the wife. She's not a girlfriend. She's not a sidepiece or a sidekick.”
She meets Cage for the first time in a club where he thinks she is one of Cottonmouth's girls but figures she isn't because she is too old. They end up getting some “coffee” which is a running joke on the series and she lies about her true occupation. I believe she says that she is an auditor. He later finds out her true job after she shows up to a crime scene. She was one of my favorite characters on this series because her reaction to all the craziness was so realistic, especially when she finally loses all her shit.
7. The Villains
When I started watching this series I thought there was one main villain. Luke Cage versus Mahershala Ali as Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes. I was very wrong. Cottonmouth, who you never call by that name to his face, has a nightclub called Harlem's Paradise which is a front for all kinds of illegal shit. He has dreams of more money and power but has a love for music and was actually very talented but was shoved into a criminal life. Alfre Woodard is Mariah Dillard who is Cottonmouth's cousin. They are more like a brother and sister. She is awesome. She is trying to rebuild Harlem and the community but at the same time her upbringing keeps her with one foot in politics and the other in the crime world whether she wants to admit it or not.
Theo Rossi plays Hernan “Shades” Alvarez. He works for someone above Cottonmouth and is a sneaky son of a bitch. He comes across as a quiet, smart guy but as the series progresses you see that he is far more evil than he appears and able to handle himself in a fight. I had just seen him in When The Bough Breaks and it took me a moment to realize why I hated him so much. Erik LaRay Harvey is Willis Stryker aka Diamondback. This mofo is crazy as shit but like other villains in this series I can't quite blame him for being the way he is. That is another cool thing about this show. Most of the bad guys are not clear cut evil. They do bad shit but when you find out why it makes a little sense. Diamondback is good with a rifle and manipulative as hell. Every time he was on screen I knew that someone in the room was not going to be leaving alive. When they showed his past with Cage I was like “Yeah. I'd probably hate Luke Cage too.”
8. The Effects
One of the best things about having a character whose powers are strength and invulnerability is that when the powers are shown you don't have to worry too much about cheesy effects. No lasers or teleportation. Cage just gets shot a lot and lifts things that are heavy. It doesn't seem to take much to have this happen and I liked that when it did happen it did not look terrible. There was one scene where he throws someone in a trashcan and squeezes the damned thing around him that I really liked because I wondered why more strong characters had not done that before. I also loved the fact that they did not use CGI blood in scenes. When someone is shot and they fell there was blood on the floor or walls that did not look like MS Paint.
9. Proper Use Of Flashbacks
There are some shows that show flashbacks at weird times or just to fill in space. Some shows wait too long to get to them so when they show up its like “I don't care now. You late!” By the time this show got to where Cage was before he got his powers and how he got them I was very “Wow. That was done perfectly.” And when they let me see why he is the way he is I understood. Fuck being a hero. Its time to lay low!
There is also a flashback, actually a series of them, that show Cottonmouth, Pops, and Diamondback. With Cottonmouth you see that he almost had no choice in turning into the man he became and I felt kinda bad for him. With Pops you learn how he got his name and how bad ass he used to be. With Diamondback I did feel that he was warranted in his hatred of Cage but not the methods with which he expressed this rage. The flashbacks did not fill time, they moved the story forward which is the opposite of what The Flash did.
10. The Casting
Julie Schubert and Laray Mayfield did the casting for this show. I have never mentioned the casting for a show before but for this I was thinking of doing the writers, the directors, or the actors but they get enough credit when it comes to shows be it good or bad. You usually don't hear about writers unless its a bad thing. But you hardly hear about casting unless its bad as well. I'm guilty of saying “Who cast this shit?” many times while watching a show and someone shows up that sticks out like a sore thumb and makes me wonder who they are related to.
They managed to get a lot of good people that worked together well. No one was trying to out act the other or looked like they didn't want to be there. Hell, even the extras seemed really into it during scenes where crowds were involved. I like when I can watch a show or movie and feel like everyone involved was into the concept and wanted it to succeed and I for sure got that feeling while watching this series. Oh, and before I forget, I have to mention the music. The music on this show is incredible. The original songs, classic blues, jazz, hip hop, and giving me the chance to discover new artists and music was fucking amazing.
Click here for previous 10 Reasons.